Animal Rights and the Hebrew Bible
- ISBN: 9780197609385
- Published By: Oxford University Press
- Published: August 2023
Does the Hebrew Bible ascribe an implicit form of legal personhood or legal rights to animals? If so, which animals--domesticated or wild, or both--receive which rights, and for what purpose? Scholars have been slow to consider these questions, and animal-oriented research as a whole, in the field of biblical studies. For the first time, author Saul M. Olyan addresses these questions in detail and explores how the evidence of the Hebrew Bible might contribute to contemporary debates about animal rights in the academy, in the courts, in the public square, and in religious communities. In this book, Olyan demonstrates that seven different biblical texts extend both legal personhood and rights to animals. The rights conferred upon them are mainly specific and situational, and the legal personhood associated them is in most cases best characterized as limited. Nonetheless, he argues that the animal rights described by these texts are genuine because they are not contingent on the needs or demands of others, they do not disappear or give way because of conflict with the interests of another legal person, and they may not be violated with impunity. Finally, Olyan considers how the biblical texts examined in his analyses might be used to extend or strengthen the arguments of those advocating for animals in judicial, academic, political, or religious settings.